Church History

 


 

On Wednesday morning, August 27, l924, during a revival meeting held at the Stewart County Court House in Dover, Tennessee by Dr. J. E. Skinner, pastor of First Baptist Church, Martin, Tennessee, a group of Baptists met for the purpose of organizing a Baptist church. Dr. Skinner preached that morning on the "Power of the Church." He was asked to serve as moderator for the organization and Reverend Clifton F. Bridges was appointed clerk. Reverend Bridges was called as pastor.

The record states that there were ten charter members: Edwin McGinnis, Daisy McGinnis, J. M. Walker, Mrs. J. M. Walker, Mrs. W. E. Fletcher, Freeman Hilliard, Mrs. Ruby Ellis, Reverend C. F. Bridges, Mrs. Mary Hall, and Gladys Tubbs. During the week four more members were added including Marialice Hilliard, Mrs. Mable Chandley, Robbye Hall, and Lottie Fletcher.

On September 21, the first church officers were elected to serve the church. There were two Trustees Ė J. M. Walker and Edwin McGinnis, three Deacons Ė Freeman Hilliard, Porter Parker, and Edward McGinnis, and a Sunday School Superintendent Ė Freeman Hilliard. Also elected were a clerk and a treasurer, however, no names were entered in the minutes. At this meeting the church requested membership in the Stewart County Baptist Association.

With the assistance of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, negotiations were started on November 2, l924 for the church to purchase the Riggins lot on the National Cemetery Highway on which to build a building of worship. The purchase was made at a cost of $500 and the plans approved. Reverend Clifton Bridges stated in an article written for the Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration that building a Baptist Church in Dover was just a joke to some people. In fact he tells how a man delivered l0,000 feet of lumber to the new site and when he went to cash his check at the bank he remarked,"The lumber will probably just lie there and rot." But because of a vision, faithful service and the eagerness of a few ordinary, hard-working people who desired to worship and follow the Lord, a $7,000 House of Worship was begun in l925. It was being used for services by l929.

In the summer of l925, the first revival was held with the Rev. A. M. Nicholson as the evangelist. There were four members added, one by letter and three by Baptism.

Records show, from the year l926 through l930, the church was very strict in discipline on its members concerning their attendance and behavior. Moreover, the church was outspoken in the community. Rev. Bridges relates in his Fiftieth Anniversary article that at one time there was a whiskey boat that was anchored in a cove within view of the Court House. Two high school boys were drowned on their way to get a quart of liquor for a prominent citizen. He stated, " We joined the feverish protest against the presence of the boat. As a result, we were ordered out of the Court House. Fortunately, Barney Crockarell allowed us to use his tobacco warehouse until we could occupy our new building. Our first service in that warehouse strengthened our convictions in Godís word: Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you." Matthew 5:11. Despite these problems, the church continued to grow.

In June l929, three deacons were ordained: O. H. Keel, Joe Martin, and J.C. Spiceland. With continued growth, the first Baptist Young Peoples Union was organized in May l930.

The first pastor, the Rev. Bridges, served the church faithfully for six years. The Rev. D. W. Picklesimer took over the pastorate in June l932. No records are available of church activity during the years of l931 and l932, but there were revivals held each year with three additions by letter in l931 and two baptisms and two by letter in l932. By the end of l933, the church had gone to three-quarter preaching time, the inside of the building was completed, and a revival ended which proved to be the real spiritual awakening that the entire membership needed. Eleven members were added and there were many rededications. Two deacons were also added: L. E. Tubbs and Clayton McGregor, Sr.

Again a period of years elapsed without many records being kept. The pastor, D. W. Picklesimer left in October l935. After him there were the following: J.W. Nelson, l936-l937; Hobart Ford, l938-l939; Fred Tarpley, l940-l941; W. A. Broom, l942-l943. Roy Vinson was added as a deacon transfer from Rushing Creek in l941.

On May 20, l941, ten ladies met to organize a Womanís Missionary Society. Mrs. Tarpley, the pastorís wife, led in the organization. The members included Mrs. Tarpley, Mary Lee Byrd, Chrystelia Byrd, Mrs. J.C. Clark, Mary Harriet Dill, Margaret Groves, Lillian Milligan, Myrtle Martin, Lois Rowlett, and Lillie Ruth Ridgeway.

In June l942, the church was legally christened "First Baptist Church of Dover." Also in this year, the building was completed and all debts were paid. This was made possible by a gift from the Rushing Creek Baptist Church, which was disbanding due to the land being taken by the Tennessee Valley Authority to build Kentucky Lake. A dedication service was held on the second Sunday in August and the sermon was delivered by the first pastor, Rev. Clifton Bridges of Crossville, Tennessee. Approximately 300 people attended.

As the membership was growing, more space was needed to house the Sunday School. A new pastor had moved on the field and the church was now enjoying a full-time service for the first time in its history. T.W. Carl of Paris, Tennessee was the pastor and needed a place to live. A house was purchased from Cleve Whaley for $l,700 which was the first church-owned pastorís home.

In the year l944, the church continued to see spiritual and material growth. Seven were baptized and four members came by letter. The financial assistance on pastorís salary and building, which had been coming regularly from the State Convention, was no longer needed, rest rooms were added, and peace and harmony prevailed. In April four men were elected to serve as deacons: Clay Groves, G. C. Milligan, Roy Irving, and Woodrow Dill.

Pastor Carl resigned in January of l945 and was followed by H. D. Langford. Even with a change of pastors, the church continued to function and grow. A full-time program brought many spiritual blessings. A building fund was started to supply the need for additional Sunday School space. Roy Ryker was added as song leader and served until August l949 when A.E. Cross, Jr. assumed this position. Through the next five years God blessed and led the church, under the leadership of the pastor and cooperation of the members, to become the inspiration to the community. In l950, Mr. Ryker again became music minister and served for a period of eight years. John W. Lorance came as pastor in November l950. By March l952 the church was once again free of debt. The membership numbered l66, Sunday School enrolled l35, and all buildings were valued at $30,000. Bailey Lisenbee was received as a deacon from New Providence Baptist Church in l951.

In November l953, the pastor resigned and Dr. J. Paul Palmer answered the call of the church. The year of l954 began with the largest church budget, pledging thirteen per cent to missions. The first Executive Board member to represent the church in the Stewart County Baptist Association was elected. Plans were made to air condition the sanctuary of the church. By the end of the year, the church was once again without a pastor. Carlos R. Owens was called. Deacons added that year were Graham Feltner and Russell Wallace.

There is no record of any revivals being held during l954-l955, but there is record of additions by baptism and by letter. The church voted to give $25 each to Corinth and Elk Creek churches for their building programs. In March of l955 a religious census was made. This proved very helpful in the Vacation Bible School which followed later in the spring. Plans were made for two revivals, one in the spring and one in the fall. The year moved on with affairs of the church running smoothly.

The year l956 continued to show growth and progress as the Lord blessed. Support of missions was evidenced by the churchís participation in a "School of Missions" held in October. In this year a building fund was initiated for a new pastorium, due to the continuous repairs to the one in use. The Budget Committee assisted in raising extra funds. In the early part of the next year, a committee was appointed to secure and purchase a lot, and to serve as a building committee. Plans were drawn for a new pastorium which hopefully would be a reality in coming months. In May l957 Rev. and Mrs. Owens offered their resignation, surrendering to full time work as missionaries in Africa. The church presented them with a new Ford automobile as a parting gift. Without a pastor for several months, the church continued to function under the leadership and guidance of capable lay-people. Herschel Woodburn took the pastorate in the last part of the year. Fred Martin became minister of music.

In June l959, the Bear Springs School property was purchased for $200 to be used for a mission. A new pastorium committee was appointed because funds were now available to be used in building. A lot was purchased in January l960 from Dr. A. R. Lee for $l,400 on Natcor Drive. Construction soon began. Rex L. Smith was called as pastor. Billy Smith served as minister of music during the summer months. Fred Martin returned in August l960 and served until l972.

Throughout l961 many blessings came to the membership. A mission was established at Bear Springs with Dover, First as the Mother church. The church shared their pastor, Sunday School teachers, literature, and provided support in many ways. A tent revival was another great experience that year with nine new members, eight by letter and one by baptism. Rev. Smith was replaced by Robert Seig as pastor in December l962. During this year, three deacons were added: Harold Biggs, Everett Watson, and Merle Chance. In July l963 the Bear Springs Mission was organized into a church in compliance with their wishes. The trustees of Dover, First made the transfer of the mission property to the trustees of Bear Springs Church, on condition that the property revert back to Dover, First church in event it ceased to serve as a meeting place for a Baptist church, cooperating with Stewart County Baptist Association and Southern Baptist Convention. At the following business session of the Dover church, a motion carried to let the property of Bear Springs Baptist Church be reverted to the Tennessee Baptist Foundation rather than First Baptist of Dover as previously stated.

A lot adjoining the church property was purchased from the Church of Christ in August of l963. Their old church building was also acquired and used as an education building for a time.

In the following years, spring and fall revivals were held. A religious survey was made. Special offerings were sent to Belmont College and to the Owens in Africa. A visitation program was worked out and High Attendance Day in Sunday School was observed. In December l964, the Deacon Board was voted to act as committee to make a thorough study of plans and procedure to build a new church building. Much prayer, planning and discussion was given to this in the months and years that followed

When the churches in the Land Between the Lakes Area were forced to disband, Dover, First offered its service in caring for their membership rolls. This service was accepted by Model Baptist Church, Nevilís Creek Baptist Church, Crockettís Creek Baptist Church, and Oak Grove Baptist Church.

Records show that a gift of $7,000 and the Model church building were presented to the First Baptist Church, Dover, Tennessee on February 22, l966. A letter of thanks and appreciation was sent immediately. A gift was given also by Nevilís Creek Church. J. W. Hutchison was added that year as a deacon transfer from Model Baptist Church and George Heflin was received from Bumpus Mills Baptist Church.

The Building Committee for the present church was appointed in March l966. In May, a building fund was established, urging all members to contribute as they saw fit. In June, a floor plan was adopted. In September , the loan was secured. The third Sunday offering of each month was put into the building fund. In March l967, Rev. Seig resigned.

Rev. William E. Franks was called as pastor in June l967 and three deacons were added by transfer: G. C. Watson, Grady Sills Watson, and Bobby Spiceland from Nevilís Creek. The summer months brought a revival, a School of Missions, and Vacation Bible School. Ground-breaking activities were held September 24, l967 and work began in October. The new building was completed August l, l968 at a cost of approximately $123,000. On August 25, l968, the Forty-Fourth Anniversary of the church, the new building was dedicated with special services. A morning message was delivered by Rev. Clifton Bridges, the first pastor, and the dedication sermon was given at the afternoon ceremonies by Rev. R. L. Lockerby, Superintendent of Missions of the greater Peoria, Illinois area. That same year Joe Dill was added to the church as a deacon transfer from Model. Jack Compton was also received from Model in January l969.

The next two years were devoted to much work and prayer. A three-day Sunday School Workshop conducted by state workers proved very helpful. Other highlights were: a Training Union Study Course was taught, a church fellowship supper to precede the monthly business meeting was instigated to occur on Wednesday night after the first Sunday in each month, and an all night prayer service on Saturday night preceded a revival.

Pastor Franks resigned on February 24, l971. Rev. Doris Hart of Nashville, Tennessee served the church as Interim Pastor. Rev. Herbert W. McFadden was called as pastor June 6, l971.

During the ministry of Brother McFadden, the church grew and prospered in several areas. Among these were : the initiation of a new Sunday School class combining the college-career class and a young couples class, the organization of a Baptist Young Womanís group under the leadership of the pastorís wife, the instigation of a bus ministry, and the addition of a youth choir and a new church training group for young adults. Moreover, the parking lot on the west side of the building was enlarged and eventually both parking lots were paved with a walk being added on the east side of the building. In l972, bulletins were purchased with the church picture on the front. Frank McQueen served as Minister of Music from January until April. Three deacons were ordained in l973: Don Riddle, Bobby Dill and Clay Webb. John Wood became music minister in February l973 and served for two years followed by Fred Borders.

In April l974, plans were made for the observation of the churchís Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration to be held on August 25, l974. A theme of "To God be the Glory" was chosen. In place of a regular sermon, responses were heard from former pastors. Those sending taped messages were: Rev. Clifton Bridges, Rev. D. W. Picklesimer, Rev. Fred Tarpley, Rev. T. W. Carl, Rev. Herschel Woodburn, and Rev. Robert Seig. Rev. J. Paul Palmer sent a letter of congratulations which was read by Mrs. Merle Chance. Revs. Hobart Ford and Rex L. Smith sent telephone greetings which were summarized by the present pastor, Herbert McFadden. Pastors in attendance were Rev. and Mrs. H. D. Langford and Rev. and Mrs. William E. Franks. Following the service approximately 200 church members and guests enjoyed a fellowship meal. A short history of the church was printed and distributed as a remembrance of the occasion. Freddie Borders joined the staff as music minister.

The next three years were highlighted by much progress. In l975 a radio ministry was begun. This continued for approximately six months. The need for expansion arose and the lower level behind the church was prepared for additional parking. Property between the present church lot and a lot belonging to Robert Williams was purchased. In l976, a clear deed was issued to Bear Springs Baptist Church for the property previously provided to start their mission.

During this time, emphasis on youth programs began to emerge. A youth banquet and rally was held; the youth attended the Youth Evangelism Conference; and plans for a youth camp at Brandon Springs were made.

In December l977, the church voted to accept new by-laws and constitution as written by committee under the direction of Rev. McFadden. In addition, Rev. McFadden was honored in May l978 for his graduation from Luther Rice Seminary.

The most exciting event of this era was the note-burning ceremony that occurred on May 28, l978. First Baptist was finally free of debt. The church continued to expand its ministries with the addition of a menís softball team, the organization of a Church Council, and the purchase of two mini-vans. A church directory was also compiled and distributed. In October l979, additional land was purchased from Mrs. Raymond Williams to add to the existing land on which the pastorium stands. Another deacon was added as a transfer from Nashville, Don Morrow.

Because of continued church growth, especially in the Youth Department, the church body decided to begin an earnest search for an Associate Pastor/Youth Director. John Mountz was called in May l980. A Youth Puppet Ministry was established and puppets and a stage were purchased. The church and community were blessed with this ministry until Mr. Mountz resigned in April l981.

In June l981, Rev. McFadden resigned. Rev. Charles Dennis served as Interim Pastor until Mark Wilson accepted the call in June 1982. Our music, youth, and childrenís departments experienced dramatic growth and the need for expanded educational space was recognized. Plans were begun on the west wing addition. Moreover, a long-range planning committee was formed to study and plan for the future needs of the church.

During the 80ís, First Baptist saw many changes: several committees were added, including, youth, children, young-at-heart, transportation; the puppet ministry was expanded to include a drama ministry; a tape ministry was provided for shut-ins; outside ramps and parking spaces were added for handicap accessibility; a visitation program was begun on the last Wednesday night of each month; choir robes were purchased; a part-time secretaryís position was created; Randy Rinehart served as a summer youth minister; and the church voted to leave the Stewart County Baptist Association and align with the Western District Association. In September l984, Charles Allen, Dennis Stavely, Tom Porter, David Wallace,and Bob McGuffin were ordained as deacons. The church experienced much growth ending 1984 with a total membership of 420 and a total budget of over $80,000. Shari Johnson served as music minister during this period and was licensed in l985. Deacons ordained in June l985 included Steve Morgan and James Ahart.

In the summer of l986, Scott Warpool served as Youth Minister and was licensed to the ministry in l987. Upon Scottís resignation, Rob Briton was issued a call as Minister of Youth and Music. First Baptist licensed Rob to the ministry in August of l988.

Following much preparation and planning, First Baptist sent a group of youth and adults to Victory Baptist Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan for a week-long mission trip in the summer of l988. It was a wonderful outreach to Tennesseeís sister state and activities included Backyard Bible clubs, marriage seminars, youth activities, remodeling of church offices, and praise and worship services. This trip proved to be an extension of the churchís love for missions and more trips of this nature followed.

The close of the 80ís brought the following: dedication of the west wing on January 3, l988; FBC held its first Harvest Day, with the offering designated for debt retirement of the west wing; Rob Briton resigned as Music and Youth Minister; a Drug Awareness committee was formed; and a Motherís Day Out program was started. The final loan payment on the west wing was made in July l989 and a note-burning ceremony was held. In 1991 Shari Johnson Wilson returned as music minister for the youth. Dr. Mike Penny from Union University served as Adult Choir leader from January until September l991. Shari became the Adult Choir leader when Dr. Penny resigned. During this time she also worked with the younger children, called Music Makers.

Robbie deMarigny accepted the call as summer youth minister in l990. Many youth activities were conducted including a mission trip to North Carolina. His ministry was part-time during the winter months but he became full-time again in the summer of l991. In August of l991, FBC nominated Robbie as a candidate to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In August l990 Rev. Wilson resigned and once again First Baptist was without a leader. Rev. Pete Lumpkins was called later in the fall l990. During l992, FBC participated in the World Mission Conference, the Motherís Day Out ministry was expanded from one to three days per week, and a Minister of Children , Kathy Dunlap, was added to the staff. In December, Raymond Feltner was accepted as a deacon from Big Rock Baptist Church. In July l993, Rev. Lumpkins received his doctorate degree.

Throughout its history FBC has strived for growth and expansion. Many of its accomplishments and blessings have come as a result of this long-range goal. In support of that goal, it became apparent that FBC needed a facelift. A committee was formed to investigate plans for remodeling and redecorating of the sanctuary and vestibule, enlarging the front entrance, and adding a sound room. Thanks to the dedication, love, and sacrifice of many, this project was completed without going into debt. A dedication ceremony was held in conjunction with Harvest Day on October 24, l993.

Many of the programs took on a dramatic flair as Kathy Lumpkins, the pastorís wife, was truly gifted and talented in these areas. Dramas were presented, including "A Witchís Invitation", based on the music of Carman, and an Easter drama with the disciples being played by the men of the church in full costume. Carnivals were conducted for Vacation Bible Schools and each banquet (adult or youth) was decorated more beautifully than the last.

During this period several part-time youth ministers were of service. These included Scott Heath, Brian Jones, Angie Watson, and Wally Vinson. All of these young people were dedicated to the Lord and to the youth. The programs flourished with the help of many volunteers. Mission trips to Indiana, Ohio, and North Carolina brought many adventures, blessings, and spiritual growth. Disciple Now weekends were held every spring and large groups attended the Youth Evangelism Conferences each March.

Rev. Lumpkins resigned in December of l993 and a pulpit committee was formed. Rev. John David Laida served as Interim. In July l994, Linda Toombs was added as Minister of Children. Upon a recommendation of Rev. Carlos Owens, former pastor, Terry Kirby of Knoxville, Tennessee was contacted concerning the ministry position. Rev. Kirby accepted the call October l994 and remains the current pastor.

In November l994, several deacons were added from sister churches, including Darrell Cook, Ira Hendon, and J. W. Hutchison. Before the close of l994, O.B. Kyle was added as a deacon transfer from Arkansas and Richard Williams from First Baptist, Clarksville.

Under Rev. Kirbyís leadership, the long-range planning committee was re-instituted. Upon their recommendation, FBC obtained the services of a non-profit architectural firm to prepare proposals for expansion of FBC. These proposals were to encompass the next ten to fifteen years. To prepare for future costs, a building fund was established by the budget committee and the regular budget was set for 1996 at $l73,970. A By-Laws Revision committee was appointed and a new pictorial directory was distributed. The new by-laws were adopted in July 1996.

In January l996, James Stokes was added to the staff as full-time Minister of Youth and Education. He served faithfully for two years. In May, the church voted to use the last Wednesday night of each month as "Wednesday on Mission" for all missions organizations. In the fall of l996, Wesley Feltner and William Marshall were licensed into the ministry by the church. Gina Tracey was added as music minister and served until August l997 followed by Julia Wolfe who is the current music minister. FBC has been blessed through its music programs, enjoying Christmas and Easter Cantatas, and numerous gifted soloists. In fact, visitors have often commented upon the musical talent displayed from the childrenís and youth choirs, the adult choir and various ensemble groups. The newest addition is the youthís praise and worship band.

Based upon the diligent work of the long-range planning committee, FBC voted to accept the Master Plot Plan designed by the church architects of the Baptist Sunday School Board as the future building plans. The project was named Vision 2000. Land has been acquired on two different occasions that could only have happened with the Lordís guiding hand. The project was set in motion with a kick-off banquet and a fund-raising plan of "Equal Sacrifice, Equal Giving." At this time, the building committee is making plans for the beginning of Phase 1. To this date $162,599.90 has been given. In June l997, FBC voted to re-align with the Stewart County Baptist Association. Also, a cookbook, "Taste and See", was compiled by the "Glory Seekers" committee (the re-named Young-at-Heart committee) with the help of Jeana Kirby. Proceeds went to Vision 2000.

With the affirmation and recommendation of the church, Rev. Kirby entered a doctoral program at Southern Seminary in the fall of l997. In October of that same year, a Womenís and Teenís Conference and luncheon was held with approximately165 in attendance. The year ended with a total membership of 576 and properties valued at $258,000.

In April of l998, FBC conducted an "Experiencing God" weekend led by a visiting team from East Tennessee, endorsed by the TBC. Greg Ernsberger was called as interim youth minister in June of l998. A full slate of youth activities was provided including summer camps, mission trips, concerts, and Bible study. Gregís call was extended to full-time Minister of Youth and Education in September. In October, FBC ordained Greg into the ministry. Plans are underway for a youth mission trip to South Carolina in the summer of l999. FBC was richly blessed by hosting the "Zambian Acapella Choir" from Zambia, Africa in the fall. These young men held assemblies at all area schools and what wonderful testimonies and music they presented. During this time, Sunday School was renamed: "The L.I.F.E. Hour"- an acronym for "Learning is for Everyone" and a new van was purchased in support of the van ministry. In December, a "Hanging of the Green" service was conducted under the direction of Dianne Feltner. The sanctuary was beautifully decorated to observe the Christmas holidays.

A committee began working to plan the 75th Anniversary of First Baptist on August 20-22, 1999. A theme of "Reflecting the Love of Christ Ė Past, Present, Future" was chosen. Various activities are planned including three services to include messages from Rev. Carlos Owens representing the past, Rev. Kirby representing the present, and William Marshall and Wesley Feltner representing the future; participation of Music Ministers Fred Borders, Julia Wolfe, and David Toombs; distribution of an updated church history and pictorial directory; fellowship meals prior to each eveningís service; a youth concert; and a Sunday afternoon Homecoming meal and concert.

FBC participated in a mission trip to Rio de Janeiro, in May l999. Through the budget, donations, yard sales, and other projects enough money was raised to send seven people. They returned with spirits aglow from experiencing the Lordís work on the mission field.

Reflecting upon the long and valued history of First Baptist Church, we recognize it as a beacon of light to many past generations. Through the leadership and guidance of l9 pastors, the church has grown from its ten charter members to a membership of 408 with properties valued at $653,000. Yes, God has been ever-present in encouraging First Baptist to grow in its ministries as a light to the community and throughout the world. This light continues to shine for the present generation through the youth and childrenís programs, mission trips, music ministry, drama ministry, van ministry, and missions organizations. It is the prayer of the staff and membership of First Baptist Church that the light of the Son will continue to be reflected for all generations to come.

The history committee faithfully submits this document as a current history of First Baptist Church as part of the 75th Anniversary Celebration. Any omissions and/or errors are due to incomplete records.

Clay Webb, Kay Brigham, Anna E.(Snooky) Wynn, Mary Harriett Dill and Janey Marshall.

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Contact:Webmaster                                                                        Updated: 04/06/2013

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